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Strengthening Social Justice Worldwide

Social justice is both a public health and a human rights issue, and our work at ASH is designed to improve social justice around the world.

The United Nations General Assembly recognizes that social development and social justice cannot be attained in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and as such, they recognize World Day of Social Justice every February 20th.

One example of ASH’s social justice work at the international, national, and local level is our work to have menthol as a characterizing flavor removed from tobacco products. In the United States, the tobacco industry has targeted the African American community with menthol for generations and unfortunately, African Americans are now more likely to die from smoking than their white counterparts.

ASH continues to urge the U.S. Government to protect the right to health (and therefore the social justice) of African Americans at the national, international, and local levels:

National – ASH and our partners at the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) filed a lawsuit against the FDA for their inaction on menthol cigarettes, utilizing human rights language in our complaint. In response, the FDA agreed to propagate a rule banning menthol as a flavor. We are still waiting for the rule to be finalized, and we continue to advocate for a rule as quickly as possible.

International – In addition to the lawsuit, ASH led a submission, signed by 97 organizations, to the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). This letter asked the CERD Committee to encourage the United States (a state Party to the treaty) to protect the right to health of African Americans against the malfeasance of the tobacco industry, a step which would further social justice.

Local – Our partners at the DC Tobacco-Free Coalition have used these human rights arguments to achieve a local menthol ban in Washington, D.C.

Our work around menthol is just one example of how ASH’s global action aids in the progress towards social justice.

In all of our work, we continue to strive for health equity and social justice for all.